A sedately paced novel of Nova Scotia records the life of Robin Crabtree and . his decisions to divorce himself from his mother's way of life and to return to the land. Realizing her concentration on his older sister, her determination to leave the little town of Bathol for a more civilized life, he is further disturbed when his love for shy, understanding, Nellie Jack, who, with her mother, is not socially acceptable, creates a further cleavage. But his grandfather stands by him and represents the security and love he has not had; his sister Alicia deliberately warns off Nellie -- and Robin is off for the West and a rugged winter of homesteading. Then there is World War I which intensifies his desire for a simple way of life; Alicia's son is left in his charge- and years of waiting bring him to Nellie. No presumptions to excellence, this stands pat on goodness.